Woods, playing on the heels of his British Open victory, torched the gallery at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club in Grand Blanc Sunday to notch the 50th PGA Tour victory of his career, beating Jim Furyk by three strokes at the Buick Open.
Woods shot his fourth consecutive round of 6-under-par 66 to finish the tournament at 24-under 264. He made a personal-best 28 birdies on the week against only four bogeys.
In hoisting a trophy, putting on a jacket or standing next to a giant cardboard check for the 50th time, Woods became the youngest golfer to reach that plateau, achieving it in 30 years, 7 months and 8 days.
Jack Nicklaus, forever in Woods’ sights, held the previous mark at 33 years, 6 months and 21 days. It took Nicklaus 262 events as a professional to reach 50 victories. Woods did it in 196.
Through swing changes, dips in his game and spikes in the games of others, the plot in golf always seems to spin back to Woods, who will enter the U.S. PGA Championship on Aug. 17 at Medinah Country Club on one of his better rolls.
Just two months ago, with Phil Mickelson holding a driver on the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club, control of the golf world seemed to have slipped from Woods.
He had missed the cut and was forced to watch the last two days of the tournament on television. But with Mickelson’s double-bogey disaster and Woods’ back-to-back victories at the British Open and the Buick Open, Woods has won four of 11 events in 2006, a season that included a nine-week layoff after the death of his father, Earl Woods, in May.
Woods, entering the final round of the Buick Open with a 2-shot lead, has won 36 of the 39 tournaments he has led after 54 holes. When that 54-hole lead has been two strokes or greater, he is a perfect 21 for 21.
Furyk, who shot a final-round 64, had the best chance to overtake Woods, playing seven groups in front of Woods and firing iron shots at the flagsticks. Woods and Furyk stood tied at 21 under after Woods made bogey on the 12th.
Woods, the No. 1 player in the world, struck back, lacing a 6-iron shot close to the 15th for a birdie that gave him a 2-shot lead. Furyk had run out of holes and into the game’s best player.
This was Woods’ second victory at the Buick Open.
Only six golfers have won more PGA Tour titles: Sam Snead, who had 82; Nicklaus, 73; Ben Hogan, 64; Arnold Palmer, 62; Byron Nelson, 52; and Billy Casper, 51.
As Woods waited for his newest trophy on the 18th green, two tournament workers carried out a giant cake commemorating the milestone victory.
Woods tasted the cake and exclaimed, “It’s good!”
On Sunday, he was very good.
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